The Internet Society will hold its second annual Indigenous Connectivity Summit in Inuvik October 10-11.
Mark Buell, the society’s North America bureau director, said one of the organization’s main goals is ensuring everyone has access to the Internet.
In North America, he says the society is primarily concerned with Indigenous and Arctic communities.
“The point of the conference is to bring Indigenous leadership, network operators, Indigenous-owned service providers and community members together to talk about shared issues and challenges,” said Buell. “We want to start to build a continent-wide community of people who can support each other in deploying or advocating for better access in their communities.”
The Internet Society is a global non-profit organization founded in 1992 by the Internet’s creators.
The society, which operates in approximately 140 countries, works to ensure that everyone has access to a secure Internet connection.
The first Indigenous Connectivity Summit was held in Santa Fe, New Mexico in November last year and saw more than 200 attendees.
Buell said the society formed an advisory committee of Indigenous network operators and Indigenous community members in order to drive the creation of the first summit.
He said Inuvik has the potential to be the Silicon Valley of the North, with the Mackenzie Valley fibre link and growing satellite station facility, which makes it the perfect location for the summit.
“Inuvik is the perfect place to hold a summit on connectivity right now. The theme for our conference is connecting the last thousand miles … we have a focus on communities that are a little more isolated and remote,” he said. “Inuvik has a real potential to be a cyber-hub for the North. Inuvik’s got the infrastructure, it’s got the people, it’s a major centre for government services, it’s got a college – it just seems like the ideal community to showcase the potential for Northern communities with good-quality Internet access.”
He said there will be something for everyone at the summit, from using the Internet to preserve and promote traditional languages, to coding camps for kids, as well as policy issues.
Representatives from Indigenous communities, Indigenous network operators and experts in the field will be speaking at the summit.
There will also be one panel focusing on connectivity in the Beaufort Delta region, which will discuss how to ensure more remote communities have better quality and cheaper access to the Internet.
Buell said the society hopes to make the conference a community event, and will close out with a community feast on October 11.
“We don’t want this to just be a conference, we want to engage the whole community,” he said. “We want it to be more of a celebration than a boring technical or policy conference. It’s going to be great fun, I’m over-the-top excited!”